By lex, on April 6th, 2006
Place this in the category of: “Probably too good to be true, but worth sharing nevertheless”
The correspondent who sent it my way said that it represents what it appears to: A HUD camera freeze from of an FA-18 of some flavor in a “position of advantage” over a USAF F-22 Raptor.
Little things. Like gunning an Air Force guy in his high tech gear. They just mean so much.
You have to understand this about fighter combat: Killing someone with a missile? Just business. Killing him with a gun? Now that’s personal. How can that be, you ask? Dead is dead, right?
Wrong. If you get shot with a missile, you got beat. You get gunned, you’ve been owned. A missile has a guidance loop, a processor, a logic board – it can be defeated. A 20mm round is brutally insensate, a mere bludgeon, with high explosive incendiary effects to go along with its kinetics. You cannot argue with it, you cannot decoy it, you cannot, once fairly beaten down, get out of its way.
Which somehow puts me in mind of as story from when I was stationed over in Japan. The USAF had a F-15 Eagle squadron in Kadena working “with” another USAF F-16 squadron in Korea. Now, much as there existed a good-natured rivalry between the FA-18 community in the US Navy, and their F-14 counterparts, so also did a rivalry exist between F-15 pilots and F-16 jocks. Except you could probably leave out the “good natured” part. Because in the Navy, anyway, after a moment or two’s reflection, one brand of pilot would actually cross the street to piss on the other, if in fact he was on fire.
Because of the service.
Less so in the USAF, was my strong impression. It all came from the hauteur with which the Eagle drivers, accustomed to raining long-range death from way high above viewed the mud-moving Viper pilots, no use at all in a stand-up fight, but given to pretensions. The F-16 guys on the other hand, were all too accustomed to seeing beat-down F-15s in the HUD cameras with the gun pipper on them to give much more than the back of their hand to the self-regard demonstrated by “Ego” pilots. They went at each other hammer and tongs. And that was just in the O’Club.
But anyway, the aforementioned Korea-based F-16 squadron maintained what we in the Navy refer to as a “Hit Log.” It’s basically a notebook used to record any illustration of buffoonery or mischance committed by any of the squadron’s pilots – a way of recording their misfortune for posterity. So that later generations could laugh at them too. The JO’s of that particular squadron were wonderfully descriptive – one could almost say inventive – and loved nothing more, when not gunning Eagles, than roasting their own comrades in tiny, crabbed pen.
And the Japan-based F-15 squadron, out of Kadena, happened to have one of the USAF’s first female fighter pilots – a real novelty at the time, and a source, for reasons I will not go into here, for much added fuel to the intermural fire between the two fighter communities.
Briefly: You should know that in a missile duel between Eagles and Vipers – at least in the old days, before AMRAAMs, when it was Sparrows and Sidewinders only (and only the F-15 carried the longer range Sparrow) – there was no contest: The Eagle is a wonderfully designed air superiority fighter, capable of going high and fast and carrying a lot of heat. But if an F-16 were to survive somehow to the merge with an Eagle, and if, at that merge the Eagle guys didn’t bug the hell out as fast as they could go, well: Foxes in the henhouse. For a hard turning, “I see you, you see me” fight, a stripped-down F-16 is hard to beat.
For an Air Force guy, anyway.
Which I know was all a long walk to this small house: In the debrief of a “many vs. many” F-15/F-16 engagement, one of the Viper jocks somehow managed to find himself in a position of disadvantage with respect to an Eagle flown by the previously mentioned female fighter pilot. In short, he got gunned.
By a girl.
There was HUD tape to provide the graphic evidence which proved to all those ears that had, in the midst of the fray, been unable to process her dulcet tones calling the hapless Viper jock dead, and out of the fight. Run along now.
Cos’ you don’t have to go home, but you can’t. Stay. Here.
Well, unfortunately there were several other things to debrief in the mission, while all of the Viper jocks but one squirmed in their seats like schoolboys held late on Friday afternoon. And the one who wasn’t squirming looked like he was pondering the best way to die, if he couldn’t manage to become invisible. Finally the debrief ended and there was a mad rush to the exit, with two or three getting stuck in the door, each trying to be the first one to memorialize this never-before envisioned feat in their hit log: One of their own, an F-16 jock, gunned by a chick (their words). In an Eagle.